Teens with cerebral palsy face uncertain transition into adulthood

B.C.’s pediatric system assigns teams to deal with the health, financial and other needs of children with cerebral palsy. At age 18, they are cut adrift to muddle through an unfriendly adult system that spreads programs across several ministries

A look at British Columbia’s transition services for youth with cerebral palsy  in the Vancouver Sun , October 4, 2013:

At age 18, Lauren Stinson faced the typical issues of people her age — social life, educational choices, finding a career. But Stinson, who has cerebral palsy, also faced another challenge — adapting to life without a medical support team.

As a child, Stinson had a host of medical and social services professionals working to manage her health. But B.C.’s pediatric medical system cuts people loose at age 18 and there is no adult equivalent in B.C. to that team-based pediatric system.

Stinson, now 24, was born two months prematurely after being deprived of oxygen in the womb. She was diagnosed with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy at birth, a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects her entire body.

….the province developed a strong system of medical care based in the pediatric system and facilities at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. Pediatric support teams may include physicians, nutritionists, orthopedic surgeons, and occupational and physiotherapists.

But the health care system has not kept up with these children as they become young adults, with adult interests in such things as jobs and relationships. At age 18, they must transition to the adult health care system and find, on their own, a new team of support workers and doctors — or not. Provincial government funding for children with disabilities, the At Home Program, is simultaneously cut off.

The transition does not always go smoothly, Lauren said.

Continue reading here.

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